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dave

Adobe rep says, "Go Screw yourself Apple!" Huh?

Has anyone had the chance to read Lee Brimelow's (Platform Evangelist at Adobe) latest post over at The Flash Blog [1]? There's been a lot of back and forth discussion about it on a number of blogs today. If you haven't seen it yet, he wrote about Apple's restrictions on applications not written in Objective-C, C, or C++, specifically referring to section 3.3.1 of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement:

"3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited)."

Brimelow's post — which has been updated to highlight the fact that his opinion does not represent the views of Adobe — opens up on Apple and viciously attacks their stance towards application development. Brimelow writes:

"What they are saying is that they won’t allow applications onto their marketplace solely because of what language was originally used to create them. This is a frightening move that has no rational defense other than wanting tyrannical control over developers and more importantly, wanting to use developers as pawns in their crusade against Adobe. This does not just affect Adobe but also other technologies like Unity3D."

Sadly, I think Brimelow is overreacting in his piece and being a bit disingenuous. This update to the license agreement strikes me less as an assault on Adobe specifically, than as something that is meant to insure high quality, native applications written on Apple's mobile devices. There are a number of other logical reasons one would want to prohibit cross-platform compilers — admittedly, a competitive advantage might be one of them.

John Gruber, at Daring Fireball, brought up some interesting points today[2]:

"Cross-platform software toolkits have never — ever — produced top-notch native apps for Apple platforms. Not for the classic Mac OS, not for Mac OS X, and not for iPhone OS. Such apps generally have been downright crummy.

[...]

Consider, for one example, Amazon’s Kindle clients for iPhone OS and Mac OS X. The iPhone OS Kindle app is excellent, a worthy rival in terms of experience to Apple’s own iBooks. The Mac Kindle app is a turd that doesn’t look, feel, or behave like a real Mac app. The iPhone OS Kindle app is a native iPhone app, written in Cocoa Touch. The Mac Kindle app was produced using the cross-platform Qt toolkit."

Another potential reason for blocking cross-platform compilers is that it may related to how applications handle multitasking in iPhone OS 4. Daniel Dilger, a writer for Apple Insider, says[3]:

"The primary reason for the change, say sources familiar with Apple's plans, is to support sophisticated new multitasking APIs in iPhone 4.0. The system will now be evaluating apps as they run in order to implement smart multitasking. It can't do this if apps are running within a runtime or are cross compiled with a foreign structure that doesn't behave identically to a native C/C++/Obj-C app."

That said, I'm not sure entirely how reasonable that argument is. Given enough time, I think you could have a cross-platform runtime actually work with Apple's multitasking implementation.

A lot of this comes down to the simple fact that Apple wants complete and total control over their platform — which is one of the most lucrative mobile computing platforms in existence. I'm sure there's quite a bit of jealously and hurt feelings over not being able to get a piece of that pie.

Secondly, there is bad blood that stems from Apple and Adobe's spat over Flash itself. While Flash has nearly complete saturation in the desktop computing space, it's platform is widely panned by many users for being too sluggish or resource intensive. This is something we've debated in numerous gdgt discussions [4]. These resource intensive requirements are one of the primary reasons we haven't seen them really take hold in the mobile space.

It's a shame that there's so much anger on both sides. Adobe and Apple both make fine products that make our lives easier. But there's definitely a lot of things that both companies can be blamed for and a lot of improvements that would make their numerous users and fans happier.

Sources:
[1] The Flash Blog - Apple Slaps Developers in the Face
theflashblog.com­/­?p­=1888

[2] Daring Fireball - Why Apple Changed Section 3.3.1
daringfireball.net­/2010­/04­/why­_apple­_changed­_secti...

[3] AppleInsider - Apple's prohibition of Flash-built apps in iPhone 4.0 related to multitasking
www.appleinsider.com­/articles­/10­/04­/09­/apples­_proh...

[4] gdgt - Flash: A CPU hog or hot tamale?
gdgt.com­/discuss­/flash­-a­-cpu­-hog­-or­-hot­-tamale­-75q...

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17 replies
dbag65

Adobe is screaming "Apple is using their proprietary system to block out our.... proprietary system". Adobe wants to tie developers and users to Flash. Apple wants everything on iPhone OS in Cocoa Touch, tying developers and users there.

Considering my user experience over the years, Go Apple.

At this point is Flash running on any mobile OS in the US? I know it's supposedly close on Android. Checking Adobe's site it looks like the only mobile devices with Flash are in Japan.

Adobe's argument that this is limiting users choice is kinda hollow. Apple isn't limiting content, just the delivery system. Adobe is trying to frame this like a content censorship issue, which ultimately it is not.
1 like dislike
ArmpitOfDeath

What the Apple Fanbois have to accept is that it's a bastard move, pure and simple. The company much of the most prominent, SF-based tech blogger element is busy brainlessly worshipping and endlessly in/directly-proselytising-over is actually more like they believe MS to be than MS in reality could ever be, if Apple were ever to stand in in the same shoes - because it has a far more defined leadership.

Not fair? Yeah. Does that matter? Of course not - unless someone in regulation gets interested.
0 like dislike
ArmpitOfDeath

Problem is, using Daring Fireball as an argument is like using a Medvedev comment against something Putin said. There might be some additional insight in there, but ultimately it's coming from the same source. And quoting AppleInsider is, taking the Russian theme further, like using a Rasputin comment against something Putin said.

There is no real reason to this aside from the commercial, which is fair enough. As for the rest of the comments - the usual raving Apple fanboi apologism.
1 like dislike
userd40ad11b74f

"There is no real reason to this aside from the commercial, which is fair enough. As for the rest of the comments - the usual raving Apple fanboi apologism."

On the other hand, unless you are Adobe or a Flash developer then this doesn't really matter. Apps developed through an interpretor do not compare to those developed natively for the platform. An interpretor just can't provide the same experience.

Some might argue that it doesn't matter and those apps should be allowed on the platform anyway. Personally, I can't too worked about it because, as far I can see, there are already plenty of crappy apps available. Excluding apps that would inevitably be crappy is not a big deal. Apple's priority should be encouraging more high quality apps from developers and doing a better job of pushing great apps to the forefront.
1 like dislike
ArmpitOfDeath

And...

...Oh no you dinn't!

edbott tweets: "Steve Jobs' argument about platforms leads to inescapable conclusion: iTunes on Windows is a substandard app. bit.ly­/c1F4wK"
4 like dislike
userd40ad11b74f

I pretty much agree that iTunes on Windows (and on Mac too) is a substandard app. It is buggy, crashy, and slow. It needs a serious overall and would benefit dramatically from a native rewrite.
1 like dislike
coologuy1957

I can't speak to mac usage, but iTunes on windows does suck.... its a system killer just like Flash... congrats Apple!!
2 like dislike
ArmpitOfDeath

Not signifiantly different on the Mac, which belies the native argument. The plus point of the Mac version is the Applescript extendability - although this is a bit like saying you can armour a heavy, slow, shiny car using concrete blocks.

Having said that, I don't really notice the speed issue on Mac or Win anymore as a) all my machines are current / fast and b) none of the machines I actually spend meaningful time in front of have platter drives anymore.

Ironically, Apple users have a far fewer choice of decent alternatives to manage and listen to their libraries with once they start to probe the limits of iTunes. There's Songbird (which is still buggier than a 3-day-old corpse in August) and... well, that's pretty much it. That also incidentally belies the 'quality over quantity' argument that Apple advocates used to use at the drop of a hat.
1 like dislike
dave

Hah, brilliant!
0 like dislike
ArmpitOfDeath

Unleasheth the fanbois...

I'm sure they'll have all sorts of justification for that one. Just goes to emphasise however, when you strip the BS from it, but it is simply a bastard move that Apple - in this instance - can get away with.
0 like dislike
ArmpitOfDeath

The mentality is part of what I'm referring to by one of my posts above. As e.g. in the automatically Apple-washed assumption of 'inevitably crappy'.

I think we'll have to pass judgement on that once AIR is out for the other supported mobile platforms.
1 like dislike
ArmpitOfDeath

Also, let's not forget other cross-compiling development platforms. AIR is the big news, but what about Appcelerator et al?
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Dpmt

Rasputin seems a bit far here. At least both Putin and Medvedev are still alive.
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ArmpitOfDeath

I don't think it's a stretch for AppleInsider - basically a communist organ staffed by wannabe hipsters.
2 like dislike
Dpmt

Much better!
1 like dislike
dave

Hah, I think that's a fair criticism. There's a lot of hyperbole on both sides of this debate and I should have done a better job highlighting arguments from more moderate and neutral sources!
0 like dislike
ArmpitOfDeath

There's no hyperbole really - it's pretty clear. There's simply the commercial realities on both sides dressed up in fancy talk. Apple wants to ensure that developers are locked into a single platform, and is not in a position to readily port their applications TO another platform - especially Android. Adobe wants its stuff to run on everything and to be the go-to for cross-platform app development - and it's currently locked out of the most popular (in terms of the numbers of apps at least) 'full-feature smartphone' mobile platform.

Some of the (inevitably Apple) dev-originating arguments about app quality and watering down the uniqueness of each platform is at the most fundamental level bogus especially nowadays: Lazy developers make crappy apps.
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